Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do I love you?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Loving someone isn't always easy to do.  Fortunately, I didn't have to learn how to love my daughter.  I am amazed that even before they brought her to me and she was placed in my arms, I loved her.  I loved her even before I knew who she was...before I knew she was born.  That is how God was with each one of us.


God knew each one of us before we were born.  He knows the beginning from the end so He knew all that would happen in each of our lives before we took our first breath.  He knew how we would feel about Him and the choices we would make and yet He still loved us.

Many have rejected Him.  Many are presently rejecting Him.  Many will come to reject Him.  Wow!  I don't know if I would want to love someone if I knew ahead of time that they were going to reject me.  It says though..."For God so loved the world...".  There is not one out there that He has not loved or is not presently loving even though He knows what they are feeling in their heart towards him and his Son.  Could you do that?  Could you love someone if you knew ahead of time that they were going to reject you?

Loving someone makes you vulnerable.  Loving someone does mean they could reject you.  Loving someone does mean you will get hurt at times.  I know that when my daughter started one of her newest "jokes", it hurt.  I would say to her lovingly, "Give mama a kiss" and she, with a smile on her face, turns her face from mine.  She thinks she is funny.  She even tells me "Congcong funny" and laughs when she does it.  Does she know that each time she does it, I feel rejected?  No.  Nor will I ever tell her that.  Do I know that is not what she is trying to say to me?  Yes.  I know her heart.  I know she loves me.  Loving someone does make you very vulnerable to be rejected.  Loving someone can also bring you the greatest blessings. 

Mark 12:30-31 has Jesus telling us 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.  If he commands us to do this, there must be a good reason for it.  He never commands us to do something that is going to harm us.  For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11  He has promised us that. 

If he has called us to love others, are we not to make ourselves vulnerable and do so?  There are many out there who need you to love them.  They often make it difficult to love them.  They often push us away.  There are many out there who are hurting and need to feel loved.  There are many who have been rejected and afraid to open up their heart and love someone.  I ask you to make yourself vulnerable and love someone.  God did it for you.  He gave us the gift of his Son because of his love for us.  Who are we then to not turn around and love someone else?  May you be blessed beyond measure because you did.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Update on my father

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

I have meant to blog about my father's progress since surgery for several days now.  Now that the holiday has past, I am finding a moment to breathe and want to update all of you.

Dad is home now and has been for over a week.  I have been amazed at how well he is healing and see the hand of God all over it!  Those faithful prayers have been heard and I thank you for that.  I think what is even more amazing is my father ALSO believes that it is those prayers being heard and answered on why he is healing so well. 

Paul and his granddaughter, Jade resting after all the presents were opened

When dad came out of surgery and we were able to see him in the recovery room, I was already amazed there.  He was coherent and already joking around less than one hour after surgery.  I remember I wasn't doing that well after my own surgery and this was BRAIN SURGERY!  Thank you Lord that you placed your angels around him and are continuing to KEEP WATCH over him. 

Less than 24 hours after the surgery, he was being moved out of the ICU into a room.  Another huge wow!  Daddy at that time said he had really good drs and surgeons watching over him and that is why he was healing so well.  Leave it to me but I couldn't let that moment go.  "No daddy, this is the Lord!  He did this."  He is the great physician.  He is the great healer.  I told daddy that day how many people I had sent emails out to and how many of them had shared his need for prayer with their prayer warriors/lists/circles/churches/etc.  I figured in my own little head that there was easily over a thousand people who at least prayed once for my daddy.  This has obviously made a difference to him.  People that didn't even know him and people that he didn't know had faith were praying for him.  Thank you Lord that you put the needs of others on our hearts and we are given the opportunity to be able to come to you with our requests.  No matter how big or small, you listen to the ones you call yours and hear our prayers.  Thank you for that gift and the one you are giving our family as we watch my daddy heal.

The road ahead is not yet clear though.  He has gotten his prognosis.  The cancer that was found in his lung 3 years ago has metastasized and moved to his brain.  The original cancer is called small cell cancer.  It is known as an agressive cancer. The scan in August of the body, not the brain, had shown no new signs of the cancer.  His oncologist had been hopeful since my father had almost made it to the 3 year mark with nothing showing up.  For now, he will have to undergo radiation treatments.  They are not going to start until he has healed from the surgery.  He will start with 2 weeks worth of radiation (5 days each week) and then assess if he needs more.  At this time, they are not planning on doing radiation on the entire brain, just where the tumor was located.  Praise the Lord!  Due to the fact that this is in his brain, they will not treat him with chemo. 

One of the things the doctor has prepared my father with is the fact that though no cancer is showing up anywhere else, since it has metastasized, there are "seeds" of it in his body.  Though they have not grown, we need to expect that those seeds could grow at any time. 

One of the other amazing things I have watched is my father's attitude.  Though this man has every right to feel many emotions right now, he appears to be fully at peace with everything.  He is calm.  He is not appearing stressed.  He is worried though about my mother and I.  My mother is trying to be strong for him and that worries him.  My brother is worried about her too. 

God was so gracious.  He shut the door in China for me knowing this was going to happen.  I can't imagine how I would have felt dealing with this over there.  He has also given me Jade.  This forces me to keep my emotions in check and keep giving them over to God so they don't impact her.  I can tell you that one of my most precious memories of her and a sign of her heart was the day before my father's surgery.  I stood in the kitchen crying and trying to hide it.  Jade was sitting across the room and said "Mama crying?"  I said "yes baobei".  She said "Shall we pray?"..."Yes, baobei."  She is already knowing that when things are difficult, we pray.  May she always know that this is what we do as He listens and He answers prayers.

Thank you again to all the prayer warriors out there.  It is because of your faithfulness in bringing our needs to the Father that my father is healing and emotionally handling this so well.  On behalf of the entire Rittenhouse family, thank you.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When you pass thorugh the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2

On Friday, December 4th, my father went in for an MRI.  They found a tumor the size of a golf ball in his right frontal lobe.  It is large enough that it has pushed his brain over 7mm.  He has been suffering from the side effects of this for a while now.  I noticed changes in him almost immediately when I returned from China.  It doesn't matter how long it has been there.  What matters now is the future.

My father, Paul, and Jade

Today, we head to the hospital for his brain surgery. They are going to be able to remove it. Praise the Lord!  The surgery should last only 2 hours.  My father is very pleased with the surgeon he has and has great faith in his ability.  They will do a biopsy on the mass.  It could take up to 10 days to receive the results.  After reviewing the MRI and looking at my father's history with cancer, 3 out of the 4 possibilities could cancer.  I serve a MIGHTY God.  He is NOT a God of probabilities.  He is BIGGER than all the scenarios we can put together in our heads. I am praying for another miracle.  Two and a half years ago, he cured his previous cancer.  I know He is still in the MIRACLE BUSINESS and can do it again.  For that matter, he can make it so there is NO cancer.

One of the challenges Dad faces in recovery is his ability to fight off infection.  He has diabetes.  The doctors have had him on a steroid to reduce the swelling prior to surgery.  This will also hopefully help in his ability to fight off any infection. 

Whatever He allows into our family's lives, I know it will be for a purpose.  I can't explain why these things happen to people.  I just have watched God walk people through these things.  They may be dark, nasty, horrible things but He loves each of us enough that He promises not to leave us in the middle of them.  He takes us THROUGH them.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:11-13.  I know in my own life, He took me through some very dark and horrible things that I would not wish upon my enemy but THROUGH it, I eventually came to know Jesus as my Savior. 

I had always known about Jesus.  I knew He was born of a virgin, came to save us from our sins, died on a cross, rose again 3 days later and will come again but I NEVER KNEW HIM!  I knew OF Him but didnt' have a personal relationship with Him.  That is the difference.  I had to go through some really awful things before I was ready to humble myself and realize I needed a Savior.  Only then did I call upon Him and sought Him with ALL my heart.  I came to know that Jesus was there as my best friend.  He was there when I couldn't get someone on the phone.  He was there when I was crying in my car on the way to work.  He was there when I was suffering anxiety attacks and nothing before ever stopped them.  He was there as I went off meds for depression and felt like I was in a deep dark pit and there was no way out.  I can now look back on times in my life before I knew Him that I know He was there.  Those really dark things that could have had far worse endings, He was there then too.  He protected me then even though I wasn't trusting in Him but only in myself to take care of me.  My prayer is that through this brain tumor, my family will come to know Him and trust in Him alone. 

When times are rough, there is nothing greater than the peace you receive from Jesus.  He carries you when you don't think you can go on.  He gives you strength to endure.  If you don't know Him as your best friend, ask Him into your life.  Admit to Him that you are a sinner and you no longer want to do it on your own.  Ask Him to be your Savior.  He is standing right beside you with His hand stretched out to you.  He just wants you to reach for Him.  He will never make you take His hand.  You will never regret it if you do.     

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bringing in the new

Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are {in fact} unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.  1 Corinthians 5:7

As you have heard me say many times, Jade constantly amazes me.  I know normally developing children learn things quickly.  When you have taught developmentally delayed children for more than 20 years, you forget how quickly normal children learn things.

Unfortunately, while she learns English, I hear less and less Chinese at the level she was at in China coming out of her.  She spoke in full sentences, even with me, while we were in China.  Some of her thoughts were very complex and truly showed her level of intelligence.  Even when I had her recently speak with a Chinese friend of mine, she didn't use it with her either.

What is sad for me is seeing her losing a part of who she is.  Yes, by bringing her home she became an American.  Yes, she will speak English as an American.  I know that when you are learning something new, some of the old things slide back.  It is just hard to watch a part of who she has been for the past three years leaving her.  She is still Chinese and always will be.  I don't want her to forget that. 

She was born to a woman in China.  She has a biological father who is Chinese as well.  I watch all the wonderful things she is doing and think about a family that doesn't get to see this wonderful part of her.  When we celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago, did they think about their child they felt had to give up?  She was abandoned on November 1.  Did they remember that day as well and wonder what has happened to her?  Chances are they will never know that she was adopted nor that she now lives in the United States.    They will also never know what a sweet, loving, bright child she is.  All they knew was she was an albino and that she was different.  I don't know what went through their heads or whether or not they think of her today.  I just don't want her to forget who she is and where she came from.  God allowed her to be born in China, spend almost 3 years in an orphanage and a foster home before He joined us together as a family.  Being Chinese is a part of her heritage and I don't want her to ever forget that.  

As the old leaves her and the new is coming in, may I never forget to share with her all the wonderful things I know about China with her.  May I never forget to share with her His unconditional love and teach her about His ways.  May He continue to watch over both of us and help us to know what she needs to keep and what she needs to let go.  

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blessings of the week

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ           Philippians 3:8

Though I am looking to be more content in life, nothing has brought me more joy than being a mother.  Though I have many days that I struggle with putting the things of life in their proper order, there are two things that will always be at the top of my list:  my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and my daughter.  That is how it should be.  He comes first.  As He comes first, He gives me the ability to be the best that I can be for her.  Without Him, nothing else matters.  Without Him, it is all a loss.  I can't imagine being a mom without Him first in my life. 

This week, Jade and I had a wonderful blessing.  With it being Veteran's Day on Wednesday, we got an extra day to spend together.  We took full advantage of it.  Late in the afternoon, we headed over to the playground across the street from our home.  She loves it.  My mom watches her two days a week and they go there alot.  Jade is getting more confident as she tries more things.  With her vision challenges, she sometimes seems unsure and wants me to hold her hand to get through things.  It doesn't take her long until she wants to be independent. 

She is starting to take more risks indoors and out.  Climbing on things, bouncing on things, jumping on things, just physically exploring her world more and more.  With that is coming more falls and more bumps.  She is very much like many other children who come out of an orphanage setting.  They get hurt but many don't cry.  Their experience may be that no one will come or comfort me when I cry so why bother.  This isn't due to the children being unloved.  Many times this is due to the ratio of staff to children is extremely high.  Due to this, many children that needed to be picked up and held couldn't be because there was not enough people available to do this.  I also know that many of the ayis (nannies) often haven't finished middle school and definitely did not receive training to work with children as they do here in the states.  I'm sure in time Jade will watch other children and come to realize she can milk her "bonk-a-boos" with a few tears.

My baobei (my precious treasure)

At the playground across the street from our home

My precious baby girl

Not only were we blessed with an extra day to spend together, we were blessed with a family from church coming by today to play with Jade while I tackled more boxes that need to be unpacked.  Since I only had 3 weeks to get repairs done and move back into my home before I went to get her, only the major necessities of life were unpacked.  Even though we have been home almost 2 months, I still had some stuff that I brought home from my year in China that needed to be put away.  While they played with Jade, I was able to get alot accomplished in a very short time today.  Nothing can be more overwhelming to me than to constantly see the things I still need to do glaring at me every day.  I now can say one more room is done!  Lord, you are so good!  Thank you for the blessings you give.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Content? Not yet but getting there

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Philippians 4:11

I'm going to start this one out by stating that I AM NOT COMPLAINING about my life. Not in any way, shape or form! Right now, I am just sharing my thoughts about where I am in my life.

Now that I have said that, hmmm...content. I have recently found myself praying for this again. I found myself two years ago praying for this and I was amazed when I finally looked back at my life and found that I was content. I stopped longing for things that were not mine to have. I love how He hears our hearts desires and gives them to us when they are in line with His will for our lives.

I want to be back in that state of mind. I have been blessed so abundantly with the gift of my daughter. Please don't take this as me saying I want more. I'm not deserving of what He has already given me. How could I even think to want more blessings?

Sometimes my head is a scary place to be. I don't let things go very easily. I over think things. I try to figure things out in my head. I try to interpret meanings behind things that maybe aren't meant for me to understand or to know just yet. This is what I want to stop. I want to take each of these thoughts captive and give them over to God. I want to be comfortable waiting for Him to fulfill the promises He has given me instead of me saying "Is this it Lord?" or "What does this mean when ... happened?".

This is what I mean by wanting to be content. I want to be able to walk through my day CONTENT to be doing what He has me doing, going where He wants me to be and totally focused on the most important job He has ever given me...being a mom. All the rest of life is very distracting at times. I forgot about some of that while I was in China. I want my focus back. While I was in China, I never forgot any of the promises He had given me. I just wasn't busy trying to interpret all the little things and how they played into my desires. I was content...content in waiting on Him and His perfect timing for anything and everything in my life. I long for that again. My daughter deserves that from me.

Please pray that I am able to find this. I have started to find some of it as I have pulled myself back from some things that I have let my head get all wrapped up in. Pray I am able to hear His still, small voice so I know where He wants me to step, when He wants me to step and to wait contently for His plans to unfold instead of me unfolding my plans. Thank you Lord that you love me enough to continue to mold me into being the best mother and woman I can be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

2 months

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

On Saturday, November 2, I celebrated the fact that Jade and I have been a family for 2 months. I want you to know that it feels like she has been with me so much longer than just a mere 60 days. She continues to be such an angel. My mom keeps telling me how lucky I am. I know this is not luck but a blessing from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This gift is so perfect that it could only come from Him.

Let's make them all talk at the same time!

Everyday she is trying new things. I can watch her for hours trying to figure out what she is going to think of next. The other day she decided that she was going to activate all the LeapFrog things on the refrigerator at the same time. She then stood back and chuckled at herself. She just cracks me up sometimes...ok...most of the time.

Dancing in the kitchen

She loves music. She loves dancing. She has figured out that if she stands infront of the dishwasher she can see her reflection in it while she dances. She received one of those cards that has music in it for her birthday. She likes when I sing to it and we added some "moves" to go with it. She will imitate anything I do! NOT ALWAYS a good thing but it definitely helps to keep me aware of all the things I shouldn't be doing. I think some dance classes may be in her future.

Dancing to her Fridge DJ

Every morning we have our little rituals. The first thing when she wakes up, she asks me "How are you?". The next question I get as we go downstairs is "Cheerios?". I make my coffee while she sits next to the fridge with her Cheerios and her drink (aka "shui" pronounced "shway"). I always bring down her blanket because we take it to daycare. This week, she decided that she wanted it over her lap while she sat there with her Cheerios and shui.

Her newest thing

Also this week, Little, our cat, decided that he really likes Jade's bag. I was filling it with all the things she needed one morning. Little decided she needed to take him with her too.

Little wants to go to daycare too

For any of you that have been into Jade's playroom, you will see that I have lots of books! I love to read and I love to read to her even more. Her favorite book of the week is The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. She sat there the other night with it in her lap while I was cooking dinner. The ladybug was picking fights with bigger and bigger animals. I tell the story in English but add some size words in Chinese. As she was "reading" the book, she would flip to each page and find the ladybug, call it "xiao de" (little one) and then the other animal and call it "da de" (big one). As the animals would get bigger, she was imitating what I had done with my voice. This was truly fun to listen to and watch!

Checking out her favorite book of the week

She has started to wear bows in her hair. It is growing very quickly. If you check out the pictures of her buzz cut in June, it is wonderful to see how much it has grown. They don't stay in long as they seem to slide out easily but the other morning she got up and wanted them in. That morning, she also decided that her bucket could hold more than her stuff from the refrigerator.

Her latest bucket trick

The other night, I had to go out to the kitchen to get something. When I came back in, I found this.

Little trying to convince Jade to share her dinner

My mom had bought a cradle this summer at a garage sale. My nephew had to complete a project for school by helping someone do something. He chose to help my dad sand and paint the cradle for Jade. It is adorable!

Her cradle my nephew, Hunter, painted for her

We had about 40 family members over to our home yesterday to celebrate her becoming a part of her family. As Hunter gave her his gift, he brought in one of her dolls to put in it. Jade wanted to take it out though and climb in herself. :) The sweetest thing was later on when she was given another baby doll as a gift, it too was put in the cradle. Jade then started praying with the baby as I do when I put her to bed. I so love her!

My new hat?

My daughter is quite a natural when it comes to performing for an audience. Her mama is the same way...unfortunately.

Her new cart

Jade loves to push things around the house, including the 6" tall carriage for my mini Boyd's Bear. She started pushing the cart around and realized that it had a seat in the front, just like in the stores. Hmmmmm! Yes, as most children would, she tried to climb in this too! She was satisfied (for that day) when we showed her that her dolls or stuffed animals could ride instead.

As I told you earlier, she loves having an audience and is always ready to perform. Since I have worked in an elementary school for 16 years and performed as a clown, I have a few cute little tricks to show her. One was my favorite...a round of applause, a seal of approval and a little Hip! Hip! Hooray!. She performed Hip! Hip! Hooray! for the large crowd yesterday several times. I believe my mom may have even gotten it on tape.

Hip! Hip! Hooray!

She also took this moment of having a large audience to try out a new trick, climbing on the coffee table!

Her newest trick

Each day with her is truly a gift. If nothing else good comes into my life, I will be ok because she is a good and perfect gift everyday. Even on days that are challenging, I love her more and more. I look forward to what will come with her. Thank you Lord Jesus for this gift.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jade's 3rd Birthday

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

On Thursday, October 22, 2009, some friends and family members gathered at my home to celebrate a wonderous day. It was the day the Lord chose for my little baobei to be born on 3 years ago in Tianjin, China. He knew what plans He had for her life. He knew what she would endure before she would be joined with me. I'm just glad that He didn't wait any longer to put us together. Thank you Lord for that blessing!

I started the day by leaving my house while she was still asleep. I found myself arriving at work holding back tears. I had waited for the past 5 years for the day I would celebrate my daughter's birth and I wasn't there. I wasn't the one that got to wake her up. I wasn't the first one that got to wish her Happy Birthday on the day she was born. Birthdays have always been extremely special to me...I'm not sure why. To not be able to start her first one here together was really hard for me. Fortunately, a good friend came in and said "Call home!" I did and it made such a difference. It didn't give me those "firsts" that I wanted but I was able to be the first to sing to her in Chinese and she understood. No one can take that one from me!

Jade and her mama wearing their "scarves"

When I got home from work, I was "blessed" with the challenge of not only finishing up dinner for 14 people, finishing her cake(messed up the frosting recipe 3 times!), stopping her from melting down because I was not following our regular "routine" but I had to also deal with a backed up, smelly sink! I called my Mr. Fixit friend and insisted that he didn't need to come out and fix it. Why do I do those things? Who was I kidding? I didn't have the foggiest clue of what I was doing. I had run a snake down the pipe and that is the best I could do. I thought I was going to go underneath, take off the trap and really fix it? Needless to say, Mr. Fixit had to come out at 9 pm because the blockage was down in the basement. I need to stop relying on him to come and rescue me everytime I have a house issue but I am so blessed that he has come and rescued me more than once since I have been back in the states.

Jade applauding the singing with Hunter (her cousin) and Gloria

Jade loved having everyone there. She loved all the attention and getting to play with Hunter and Gloria. She wasn't too keen on eating the cake. She is not a big sweet eater. She tried her hardest to blow out the candles. Thank goodness for help from Hunter and Gloria on that one!

My little princess

My daughter is in need of nothing yet she was blessed again with so many gifts. As she unwrapped one of them, she kept taking out the tissue paper and would lay it out flat as if that was the cherished gift! One of her gifts was a Cinderella dress and crown. Every princess must have a crown! She's not too sure of the dress yet but knowing how much she likes to put on jewelery and towels as scarves, I expect that dress up is right around the corner.

Jade enjoying one of her presents

She was too cute when she got a stroller for the dolls. She thought is was for her and tried to sit in it! She may be light but not THAT light! My mom took her and her doll out for a walk yesterday with it! The first time out was Jade's turn to ride in her stroller so Laolao (grandma) could get her exercise. The second time was so Jade could walk her doll. Wish I was there to see that!

Jade with her Uncle Brian

I was so blessed that my brother was able to come out for this. His schedule is often full and my nephew is supposed to spend Thursdays with his mom. They came anyways! What a gift for me and for Jade. Hunter so loves his cousin. He is so good with little children.

It is hard to believe that within the first month of having her home, I was able to celebrate a milestone with her. Our first birthday celebration together. I can't wait to share each upcoming event with her. Everything is new to her. Everything she sees, does, experiences is brand new and she loves every little thing (well, not yet the car seat!) and can't wait once she gets past the initial "What is this?". I just want to be the one to show her more of it. Unfortunately, I can't. I have to work and others get to have those moments. I have mine though and no one can take those. Last night was one of those. She was very upset. She is starting to get fussy when I tell her it is almost time to go to bed or take a bath. She knows she will have to stop playing. She ened up crying through out her bath. As I layed her down to bed, she was still crying. We prayed and I asked Jesus to comfort her and to help her calm down so she would sleep well. Immediately after praying, she took a deep breath and was done crying. AMEN! We praised Jesus for helping her! May she see continue to see the power of prayer when you call on the one I know as my Lord and Savior! Thank you Lord for all those little gifts. Every good and perfect gift DOES come from above! What other gift could I want? I have her.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Growing more and more

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12

She amazes me how much she grows. It is daily...not in height but in knowledge. Now that I think about it...she is physically growing too. The doctor says she gained 2.5 lbs since she has been home and to keep feeding her when she is hungry. Ok doc, you know what is best. The awesome thing is that she loves fruit and vegetables and he was surprised to see that her tests showed that her enzymes are good and so is her iron level. Now if I can only get my iron and B12 levels up I would be doing as well as she is. :)

I had told you that while we were in China, she was laying in bed and counted up to 50. This is not typical for a child who was not yet 3 years old. Well, the other night, she was pulling out my cooling racks from the cupboard and she wanted me to count with her. We counted each of the lines on the rack. I pointed and she counted...in English. She independently went to 16. She amazes me. She is a little sponge.

Jade and our cat "Little" entertain each other

Fortunately, Jade and the two cats get along well. She doesn't like it when they fight. Unfortunately, we have been dealing with alot of that lately. I sat on Little's tail on Sunday and he thought it was Miss Hue. He started hissing at her and she started swatting at him and this is how it has been for 5 days straight. I went away for the weekend so I have no idea how they survived. Anyone want 2 cats? Screaming Piazzolla in the car is enough for me. I don't need two screaming cats in the house too!

Jade with her "scarf" and her favorite accessory, keys

Jade loves to imitate anything that anyone is doing. Her latest thing is whenever I am wearing my favorite scarves from China, she runs and gets the towel out of the bathroom and puts it around her neck. Her other favorite accessory continues to be keys! The challenge is that when we are outside of the house, she is going to ANYONE and trying to get their keys. She pulled out of my hand at church and at a store doing this. It concerns me how freely she will go to strangers and it is something I am keeping an eye on. I is a sign of attachment issues and I need to talk to a few of my friends who have gone through this to see what they think and how they knew. For now, I pray and ask for my Lord's wisdom, guidance and protection.

My little monkey

One of the cutest things she started doing this week was carrying over her new English skills into new situations! As a speech therapist, NOTHING you love more than carryover! Woohoo! As I have told you before, she loves to sing. Well, singing Noah has a great big ark and Old MacDonald has a farm has helped. The other night, I was telling her we were eating chicken. I often tell her in Chinese and in English. After I told her we were eating chicken, she took a bite and then said "buck buck". :) She makes me chuckle all the time! She started making more of the animal sounds. If I start it and then wait, she will finish what I started. My favorite is when she does the monkey! If I haven't told you already, I sooooo love her!

Open my eyes Lord

Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:18

This has been a challenging weekend for me. I have wanted to blog all weekend and just couldn't find the time. I love sharing with all of you the joys my daughter brings. I will eventually get to that in a different post, but now, I just need to share about me. I need prayer and therefore, I want to share with you where I am at. This may not make alot of sense. This is just kinda rambling for me so I can sort it all out in my head and with God so be patient as you read this.

Our morning started out with me trying to get a "little guiet time". I was so excited. I woke up and had actually slept through the night without waking. Woohoo! Jade wasnt' awake so I wanted to go downstairs and get a cup of coffee and open my bible. I have been desiring adult time and quiet time this week. Not getting enough of either. Needless to say, I sat on one of my cat's tails which set him off and that set the other cat off, which in turn woke up Jade. Quiet time...gone. The morning continued to snowball. Let's just say, we left the house for church at the time we were supposed to actually ARRIVE there. Not good. As I drove out the driveway, I said, "Why bother going? You're already late. She's not actually understanding anything she is hearing anyways."

Lord, change my heart. Change my thoughts. Change my mood. I found myself Friday night so missing China and SFCV. As this weekend has unfolded, a friend of mine asked me why am I feeling this way. What is it I am looking for that I think I would get from adult time, time to myself, my hair cut/colored? What is it? Lord, open my eyes. I want to see. I want to know.

This weekend, I started thinking about how life was so much simpler in China. I could see and hear God so much clearer. There were less distractions of everyday life there to pull you away from Him. I didn't really get "adult time" and conversation except on Sundays as I rode in an hour with the Bakers to church, for lunch and the ride home. Even though I longed for it, it was part of life there so I just dealt with it. I couldn't easily get to church more than once a week like I can here. If I wanted to be "fed", I had to do it myself. I couldn't easily get to a store to purchase things and I couldn't really shop as it wasn't in my budget and most things didn't fit me.

When I first returned to the states, I wanted to keep my life simlified. I lived with so little there and still had so much more than most of my friends there. I find myself wanting things here. Why? I don't need them. while in china, I didn't cut or highlight my hair. I was afraid of a bad haircut (flashbacks of teenage years) and couldn't justify spending a week's salary to go to Beijing and color my hair. I don't know if it was I just didn't feel pretty or feeling like a mom or flashbacks of my oldest friend telling me I was looking frumpy but I went and got my hair cut and low lighted. I love it but why did I feel like I NEEDED it.

Sometimes my head is a very scary place to spend time in. That is why I only want to hear from my Lord. I want peace back. I want to be focused on what He wants me to focus on in my life. If there is something He wants me to change, I am willing. If there is something He wants me to do or stop doing, I am willing. I want Him to be my center, like it was in China. I need Him there. He was my husband in China. To some of you, calling Him "my husband" doesn't make any sense but He was my confidant. He comforted me. He corrected me. He calmed me down. He refocused me. These are all the traits that many of you turn to your own husband for and I want Him like that for me here too. I haven't put Him there in the last few weeks and I want Him back there. There are so many decisions I have to make and I hate trusting myself to make good ones. I know there is no greater wisdom, understanding or discernment than I can get from my Lord and Savior. Just pray that I can find what I had with Him while I was in China back here in the states as a mother. There is nothing greater than this. I don't need all the rest. If He opens my eyes and shows me something, AMEN to that! If not, I am ok with that, as long as I can put Him in the center of my life again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No more tears...well, sorta

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

Jade has done super this week. The greatest accomplishment this week was the fact that she stopped crying going from home to daycare and then from daycare to home! Of course, it wasn't by her own will...there was the infamous dangling carrot of fruit snacks as an incentive! Hey, it got me peace for 1.5 miles! I'll take it! I will just let you know though that when you try to travel further with her...the effect only lasts for up to 15 minutes. And in those 15 minutes, do you know how many animals got onto Noah's ark? She kept asking for rat-a-tat-tat and I kept singing. At least half the ride was scream free!

She amazes me how fast she picks up the language. I know this happens with all the children that are adopted so young but when you have worked in Special Education for 21 years, you sometimes lose a grip on what is "normal" development. It seems like every day she is learning a new English word, following more directions without me speaking Chinese and using new Chinese phrases that I haven't heard before. Her newest one is keys. She LOVES people's keys and their cell phones. A friend of mine says he feels like he should be getting arrested as she pats him down looking for his phone in his pockets when he walks in the door. One of the men in our church has a huge ring of keys and those are her all time favorite. She likes to flip through them and gingle a few at a time together and then alter combinations to hear the different sounds they make. My mom comes out on Wednesday nights and watches her for two days a week. As "Laolao" walks in the door, Jade is already asking for keys. Mom is willing to trade them for a little loving. Jade decided that Laolao's keys may also make some really interesting jewelry.

Jade wearing her newest "necklace"

I have been floored by the outpouring of donations I have received for Jade. Families are going through their toys, books and clothes and passing onto us what they no longer need or have an abundance of. I love how our Lord supplies all our needs. I walk into her playroom and realize that other than books, there is not much here that I have purchased. It was all donated or given as gifts.

Jade and some of her "stuff"

I love watching her play. I expected to have to show her everything and teach her how to play. Yes, I do have to do this but she picks up on it so quickly. She was given the Fisher Price castle and she loves moving the people around. She finds it entertaining to watch mommy make these funny voices as she moves the people around. (At least we are both entertained by one another!) The other day, she picked up the thrones for the king and queen and said "potty". As I looked at them, I agreed. They do kinda look like potty seats for children. I love looking at the world through her eyes. It makes me take time for the little things I have been missing.

My baobei

The other day, we had to go to the store. As we walked through the store, she just wanted me to sing to her. She kept requesting the songs. I don't mind singing to her in public, I just don't know what all the other customers in the grocery store thought about us! :) The best part is she prefers the songs we sing from Children's Ministry. She asks for them in her own special ways and I sing along for her. It's my little evangelist and she is not even 3 yet! She is already getting out His word in non-intimidating ways and she doesn't even know it! She has this way of getting people to do things that God says is good. Hmmm, guess I am going to keep praying that He use her in mighty ways to let people see His glorious ways and bring them to salvation!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Picking apples

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

For the past 6 years, I have belonged to an adoption support group. We meet monthly and the people in our group have grown to be called family by one another. Over the years, we have gone on many field trips. There has always been an abundance of children I could "borrow" for the day and call mine but today, I was able to go on my first field trip as a mama! How sweet it was!

Jade and I on the children's wagon ride

Jade was super! (as long as we don't talk about the lovely ride with her screaming all the way in the car seat) She went on the wagon ride with me after I was able to squish myself in and pry myself back out. I was blessed to have this all documented in pictures. Thanks Gary! She loved it. For those of you who know me, I love to sing and what would a field trip be without a little singing. Yes, we sang as we rode! The young man driving the tractor looked back and laughed at us a few times but my daughter loved it and that is all that matters!

Jade and Carol James

Since I have grown to love so many of these children, it was very hard for me to share my time with them and my daughter. Meaghan was one of these special little girls. Meaghan has been home for 4 years and she is my lovie! Each one of these girls has been waiting for my daughter to come home so they could play with her. May they all grow to be good friends and know that even though I am Jade's mama, I will continue to love them.

Meaghan and I

We took a wagon ride out to the orchard. They gave us bags to fill. I was so excited as I haven't done this since I was a teenager and getting paid to pick fruit. Jade was quite content. She enjoyed walking through the orchard and was all set once her hands got full.

Jade and her two apples

I kept trying to convince her to put her apples in my bag and get more but nope...that was not her plan. So she ate and I picked. We all joked about whether or not they were going to give us an apple breathalizer when we got back to pay for our apples. They were so good. Nothing is better than a crisp apple right from the tree, well, except maybe the apple crisp and apple sauce made from them later in the day. :)

"Ok Mama, my hands are full! I'm ready to go!"

This was not only my first field trip with my daughter but Karen Pickard has also recently brought home her daughter Maya from Ethiopia. This was an exciting moment for both of us and one we have both waited for.

Maya-one of our newest additions to the AWAA family

The Kulps were in China while I was. We were both getting our daughters at the same time. It was such a blessing to be able to see people you knew and watched walk through their journey get their daughter, Danielle.

Danielle-our other newest family addition

I so love our support group. No one is afraid to say they are having challenges. No one pretends to be the perfect parent. Though my best friend has been telling me that all parents make mistakes and we all feel dumb sometimes, it was good to hear other people telling you this too. So many other families have experienced my car seat issues (and it looks like it could be a long ride until she is comfortable in it) as children in other countries often don't use car seats and haven't traveled much.

As we went through the day, we shared stories of our children. I was sharing how Jade has started to sing the chorus of a worship song and raise her hands in praise like mama does (Monkey see...monkey do). Each mom shared a song their son or daughter did the same thing to. Each song was totally different but it totally matched the child's personality. I love how you do this Lord!

After a wonderful day, we journeyed home. Later on, Jade decided that all the plastic containers needed to come out of the cabinet. She decided to create a masterpiece with them. She also realized that they can be used for art AND to make a lovely hat!

Jade proudly displaying her new "hat" and artistic creation of plastic containers

Saturday, October 3, 2009

First week home

“Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me! ” Psalm 66:20

This has been a long week for me. It started with a return to work. Ugh! Fortunately, she is doing well at daycare. We spent three days at daycare the week before getting to know the children so I think that helped with the transition on Monday. I think she has handled this because she is used to rotating care takers while living in the orphanage. For me the hardest part is watching her leave my arms and want to go to Jaminett. I am trying not to say "attachment issues" but I am keeping my eye on it. She is very comfortable going to a variety of people and I am trying to sort it all out and decide how I am going to handle this. Is this part of her personality? Is it an attachment issue?

On Tuesday, we headed to see a pediatric opthamologist. I didn't expect to get in so quickly and now I wish we hadn't. After 1.5 hours in the car (screaming, taking off her clothes, trying to get out of the carseat, and a bloody nose from getting so stressed out), she was exhausted. This dr didn't even take the time to ask me any questions about her vision or gain a rapport with a child who was obviously not comfortable (she was hiding under my coat trying to fall asleep when he walked in) before he started evaluating her. After he tried to evaluate her unsuccessfully, he said he would need to put her out to be able to evaluate her. He could tell me what they might find but he couldn't tell me what she was exhibiting on WHY he thought she might have those issues. He didn't even suggest that we try an evaluate her again after she has been home longer and more comfortable. Let's just say, I am in the process of looking for another doctor.

This week at work, I received this special gift. A woman I work with walked up to me and handed me this pink bag. It was from her daughter to my daughter. She had gone home and told her daughter about Jade. She told her how she had come from an orphanage in China and didn't have many if any toys where she had lived. Stephanie immediately wanted to go through her own toys and give some of them to my daughter. Stephanie is only 4 years old. She not only wanted to give her own belongings, she wanted to take her birthday money and go shopping for things Jade needed. Stephanie bought Jade a new pair of pj's, a bear that prayers and some new jewelry. I was so touched as was her mother. If only the adult part of the world could see things like this child has, there would be no one who was hungry, without shelter, without clothing, the world would be a better place.

In all the things that Stephanie had given Jade, there was a wipe box full of necklaces and bracelets. When I gave it to Jade and she opened it up, it took her breath away. She immediately put it down and started putting on all, and I do mean ALL her new jewels. Her arm was so full of bracelets that she couldn't even bend her elbow!

Jade all dressed up and ready to go!

On Thursday and Friday, my mother comes out to my home and watches my daughter at my house. This is good but it was hard to leave this morning as my daughter was still sleeping when I left. Every morning, we pray together before I leave her. It was far too quiet to not hear her little "Amen" at the end of our prayer.

One of my favorite stories this week has to do with worship. Every morning, Jade and I play a cd called "Sing over me". It has a combo of worship and lullabies and I highly recommend it to all mothers. We stand in the kitchen, I hold her and we sway to the music. I always sing the first song "How great is our God" to her. The second song is "Here I am to worship". To my surprise, she started singing the chorus this week with me! How precious to my ears! If it is precious to me, I can only imagine how it sounds to God! I can't wait for the day that she truly understands what she is singing and truly wants Him as her Savior! Today she added a new twist to it. She started raising her hands in praise while she sang!

Parents, I tell you to watch what you are doing or not doing. Your children are watching and listening! She has only been home in the states with me for 11 days. In that time, she is studying me. She hears what I do and imitates it. She watches what I do and imitates it. For those of you who love the Lord, may your children hear you praising Him. May they watch you worshiping Him. May they hear your prayers to Him. It is by our walk, by our actions that they learn how to do these things. If they can't see it or hear it, how will they know? I encourage you to live your life for Christ so your children can see and know this is the way a Christian is. You will be blessed as you watch your children grow as they are given that model for their life.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The gift of a child

A gift is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor; Wherever he turns, he prospers. Proverbs 17:8

Jade is considered a precious stone of China. Jade is also my precious baby girl. I tell her that daily both in Chinese and in English. She too is a gift to me. I praise Him for designing her for me daily as I know that such a perfect gift could only come from Him.

I stood in my kitchen the other day and was just watching her explore her new world. I thought about the gift He sends to us in the form of a child. Each day with her, I feel like I see something new in her. It is like I am unwrapping this beautiful package each day and the gift justs keep getting better and better.

Even if you don't have children, God did this for us as well. His son, Jesus Christ, was sent to us as a child. When you accept Christ as your Savior, each day is a new day and you get to see something new. I learn new things about Him each day. I also see areas that He is working on in me. I am soooo glad that He is still working in me as I don't want to make mistakes with her. I can see areas in my life that He has been molding me for so I would be ready for this moment with her. Each day living for Him and with Him is a gift.

For those of you who have experienced the gift of a child through adoption, I thank you for eliminating one more orphan in this world. For those of you who have not, you may want to consider it. It is an amazing gift. For my friend who have given birth as well as adopted, they say there is no difference. They are your child. I know that as I look into her eyes, I see the eyes of God...perfect, pure, meek, loving, patient. Everything about her was designed specifically for me.

Right now, she lays upstairs sleeping. She awoke from her nap earlier and got up briefly. She had shots and blood drawn today. She lay in my arms downstairs and just kept asking for Cheerios, a drink and to go to sleep. Jetlag and all these daily challenges as dr appts, carseats and visiting daycare in preparation for Monday have been challenging. I know He is watching over us and directing us. I pray He continues to let me clearly hear His wisdom as He guides me on what is best for my precious baby girl.

Our friend Nancy holding her at the shower they had for us at work

Jade with her grandpa

Jade with my brother's son, Hunter

Jade and I at Laura's wedding reception before we left China

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prayer Request

This will have to be quick. I have not had consistent internet access the past two days so I apologize for not updating the blog via email. We leave SFCV in 2 hours. We head to Beijing for church, see some things, lunch and the airport. This will be a challenging day. She has seen the suitcases already and knows there is a change coming. She has been whining due to that.
We need prayer. Our flight leaves Beijing at 9:15 tonight and we fly into South Korea. We have a 10 hour layover there. We are going to stay in a hotel and that will be a nother transition for her. We fly to Washington at 10 am ish on Monday morning on a flight that is over 13 hours long. We then have a 5 hour layover before we get to Rochester at 6 pm.
His mercies are new every morning and we have a few mornings to get through until we are home. I am glad I am doing this journey with Him leading and guiding us. I can't imagine doing this without Him. Just please continue to keep us in prayer. I know that things have gone so well BECAUSE of all the faithful who have been praying for us! We thank you for that!
As we step off the plane in Washington, Jade will officially be a US Citizen! See you soon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Praise the Lord Pictures

Jade and Shelby

Jade and Teacher Wang

Jade and Sara

My world traveler...have potty, will travel

Praise the Lord!

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. Psalm 28:7

Thank you to all of you faithful who have been fervently praying for us on this trip and especially for today! I praise you Lord for all you have done and are going to do in my daughter’s life and in mine!
She made it! I can’t say with no crying but so minimal it doesn’t even matter! She walked and playfully ran through the airport! Woohoo! First major challenge averted! Lord you are soooo good! Whined a little while waiting for tickets but truly minimal. While waiting for the plane, she decided she too wanted to carry bags like Laolao (maternal grandmother) and mama were so we gave her the “potty” bag. She was pleased as punch to drag it around in our area! She thought she was pretty special! She got on the plane and only whined a little about putting the seat belt. She slept for an hour and got whiny after two hours but I got up and took her to the bathroom and she was content again. Changing scenery seems to help. So does giving her those 5 minute warnings. It will be so much easier when we both understand each other more.
Driver Gu picked us up at the airport. He told me she was beautiful. I do agree. We got to SFCV and were met by friends. She needed a nap so I had to hold people off for a while. Transition was making her whiny…as expected but still nothing in comparison to what we have been going through. Thank you Lord! She didn’t want to get up from her nap but once we got her outside, my baby girl was back in action. She wanted to be down and with the children. She stayed near me and made sure she knew where I was but still was willing to talk to my friends and the other children here. Lord, you are soooo good!
The hardest moment for me was when one of the nannies asked me why I didn’t adopt a child from here. I tried to explain that you can’t always get matched with a child that you desire, especially once you are already with a specific agency. I know there are so many God stories out there testifying of beating those odds but also I know this is the child God created just for me.
This wise nanny told me that all the children here need a mother and a father to take care of them. I told her they were blessed to have them to love them until that time comes. She told me it is not the same. I agree. May those of you who have never witnessed the miracle of adoption or the precious face of an orphan see what happens to a child when they enter into a family. Though they may be loved where they are, there will NEVER be anything that can be as good to them as a family to call their own. I ask those of you who have no children, already “have enough” or have already raised a family to consider this. Is He calling you to adopt? Is He calling you to step out and help orphans in some way? Find out. If it is adoption, it is the most amazing thing you will ever experience in your life and the blessings you could bring to a child’s life with be numerous.
Tomorrow, I must say many goodbyes to people I have come to love here and will forever be in my heart. I don’t understand why God moves many people out of here that the Chinese have come to love and respect but I do know that He leaves that whole in their heart so He can fill it if they let Him in. Pray for the Chinese staff here that do not yet know Him as well as pray the staff here that does know Him will speak boldly in His name and testify what He has done in their lives.
Lord I am just so glad that you are my Savior and that you are with me and my daughter as we go through each and every day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Swearing in

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

He is so faithful and again, He hears the desires of our hearts even when we don’t go to Him and tell Him. I was disappointed today as I had expected to attend a swearing in ceremony with families I didn’t know. I wanted to be a part of our group. He knew that. Today, the last eight families had their paperwork done at the consulate and because there were so small a number of families, they moved their swearing in date to today! Yippee! Praise the Lord! Not only was I there with the families that I have gone through this journey with but the Kulp family (from our AWAA Support Group) was also there. I love how He takes those desires and puts them together better than you could have ever asked for! He has proved that again and again on this journey.

This is going to be a short one as I need to get up in 5 hours to catch our flight to Beijing. Jade continues to have challenges going into new situations with large groups and in noisy places. A family suggested I try cotton balls. I am not sure if that is for her or to hand out to the people around us but we are going to try that tomorrow to get through the airport and the flight. She did not do well at the consulate today. She cried and screamed for a long time. Once we sat down and I sang to her, she did better. She prefers Old Macdonald right now and tells me by putting her hands on my face, looking at me and saying “Ee Ii Ee Ii Oo”. Hey if it works and keeps her from crying in those situations, I will sing it until I lose my voice! Please pray for her. Pray I have the wisdom to know what will comfort her and that the people around us have patience with a crying child on a 3 hour flight. My back is starting to bother me and carrying two bags and her tomorrow through the airport could be challenging.

With a flight back to Beijing, I have to put her through another transition. This one could be more challenging as it is an orphanage situation. There will be many Chinese friends who will want to meet her. She tends to shy away from the other children as well and last I checked, SFCV still has over 100 children there. We will only be there 3 days before I have to take the long flight home with a 10 hour layover in South Korea. Just please continue to keep us in prayer.

I didn’t have time to download pictures so I will try to get you some extras tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Loys of Little Blessings Pictures

My sleeping baby

Jade and I in a park on Shamian Island

Jade and I with a "sister"

Jade and I on the terrace of our hotel